A man approached me with a parenting tip after a recent event. I had talked about the value of taking the chance to try new things and be willing to make mistakes in your life to get ahead. I said that anything worth doing well, is worth taking the time and effort to do POORLY first. Any skill that you eventually master or do very well, you likely do poorly at first. You keep deliberately practicing, getting quality coaching and over time, you learn to do it very well.
Too many, especially kids, try something the first time, do not meet with immediate success and quit. They never try again. This often happens because kids are over praised for being fantastic and special their whole lives. They are not good at dealing with failure and frustration. Sometimes kids who sail through high school with straight A’s get there first B in college and feel like a failure. I believe we need to encourage “non-permanent” mistakes. Try something new and be able to come back home, regroup, lick your wounds, suck it up and try again.
This man agreed with that philosophy and gave me a nugget I had not considered. He said he coaches his kids to make sure they avoid permanent mistakes. Some are obvious: breaking the law, teen pregnancy, ear spacers, driving under the influence accidents, starting to smoke/take meth/cocaine/heroin or other drugs, drinking excessively, permanent facial make-up tattoos, piercings in non-conventional areas, eating a donut a day not an apple, drunk facial tattoos.
There is a show called Ink Masters which had an episode on permanent mistakes. I love the byline – Tattoos are forever and so are the mistakes! If you want to see for yourself, here are three links to some hideous examples, One, Two and Three. As you will see are there are some very poor spellers out there and people with terrible judgment. Evidently many tattoo artists are not aware that there is a difference between your and you’re.
Some permanent mistakes are a little more subtle. My friend Waldo Waldman told me his wife had a good friend die of a stroke at age 49. He had no life insurance in place for his wife and 2 children. That is a totally avoidable permanent mistake that will negatively impact his family forever.
What about the couple how makes a decision early on to not put any money away for long term savings or their kids college tuition? That is a permanent mistake that you have a difficult time recovering from in the future. Maybe that is way 25% of people think their best chance to build wealth is by playing the lottery! Of course almost all take the lump sum payment instead of the 20 year annuity payment. What happens? It ruins many of their live because the did not have the mindset it takes to handle that windfall.
What about people who make the decision to not take care of themselves, eat poorly and do not exercise. Many of the eventual problems they run into we call “diseases”. My thought is if you GAVE IT TO YOURSELF, it is not a disease. Did you know that Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs. Preventable illnesses account for eight of the nine leading categories of death.
Alert – if you have Type II diabetes you gave it to yourself! It is totally reversible and avoidable in the first place. Did you know that 95% of diabetics are Type II, 1 in 11 Americans have it and that a million more in the USA are diagnosed and it every year.
What about heart disease? Again, it is a preventable illness. These are examples of permanent mistakes and you can take action to reverse. I see people like this in the gym all the time. They spent their entire life not taking care of themselves thinking ONE DAY I will get around to it and they never do. Then they wake one day and look in the mirror in horror. “I have to do something.”
In my research for this blog, I read about the MTV show TEEN MOMS. A article mentioned that of the teen moms on the show almost all had tattoos also. That got me thinking. If you make one permanent mistake does that make you more likely to keep making them?
What about the man who commits his first crime and goes to jail? Are they more likely to get that tattoo, try drugs and steal again? I think so. What about the girl who gets that tattoo on spring break? Is that next potential permanent mistake easier to make? Once you start down that path it must seem easier to keep going. What do you think? What are other permanent mistakes to avoid?